Dealing With a Preschooler's Eczema

My preschooler has terrible eczema, and as a mom who has struggled with very sensitive skin my whole life, I know just how he feels.  Every time I turnaround, he is scratching one body part or another.  Lately, it has gotten to the point of his ripping off his clothes the moment we get inside the house.  While it is comical for my husband and me to see our little cutie pie in his skivvies, we are also quite concerned for his well being.  (I mean, we don't live in a nudist colony, so for most of his life he is going to need to wear clothes.)

My little one has had itchy skin from the day he was born, so this is nothing new to our household.  However, this winter things got worse.  His once soft hands, are now dry and red.  He complains every time he washes his hands, and won't let me touch him with moisturizing lotion.  As such, we need to watch every product that touches his body.  For all of you mothers of preschoolers out there, you know how challenging this can be.

I have given up on trying to control what is happening at school.  In order to keep his skin from flaring up entirely, I would have to sneak into the school at night, and change out all of the soap containers he could come in contact with.  Also, the school uses antibacterial gel like its going out of style.  (I can't say that I blame them, as this has been a terrible year for illness.  However, that stuff is terrible for your skin!)

Luckily, I can control what comes in contact with his skin outside of school.  So, I have written this article on the products that have been working for us.  I hope that you are able to find some helpful tips for your little one here, as I know how hard it is to find the winning combination.  (That right there is the trick!  Every one is different, and you are going to need to find out what works for your little one, which maybe the same as what works for mine, but it may be something totally different.)

As you may or may not know, according to WebMD, "Eczema is is a term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated."  

(Well, that's helpful, thank you very much.) My personal definition for what is afflicting my child is a skin allergy. When I think of it that way, I'm able to hone in on ingredients in products that affect his skin. 

Since his birth, I have used the California Baby Shampoo & Bodywash - Super Sensitive - 19 oz products.  While these are great products, I've always wondered if there was a low-cost alternative that I could try.   In five years, I have not found anything as "clean" as these products.  I have tried store brands, including Bath and Body Works, Walmart, Top Care, and others to no avail.  

I have tried Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Lotion, 8 oz  on his skin (which friends of mine live by), but I think there are some fragrances in the Calming and Eczema formulas that he reacts to.  (However, I should say that we have used the Aveeno Oatmeal baths during particular bad breakouts and have seen his skin visibly calm down.  We try not to use this too much though, because he tends to put the bath water in his mouth and it makes me leery thinking that he might be ingesting the oatmeal bath mixture.)

In terms of detergents, believe it or not, the best product for us is Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent, Original Scent, 100 Fl Oz.  I don't know why, but he doesn't seem to react to it, and it cleans my clothes great!   The downside to this is that Tide is more expensive and we have to use the Original formula, all of the others he reacts to. ARGH!

Neither my son, nor I can use any product that says "free and clear" or some alternative.  While the formula is transparent and colorless (and perhaps fragrance-less), these detergents are even harsher on our skin than regular old detergents.  (Yes, we are strange sort...)  

Well, I could spurge and and try Dreft for his clothes, but I am avoiding that at this point, because I have to buy Tide for my husband's clothes (he's a landscaper and his clothes need a strong formula).  If I have to buy Tide and Dreft, I'm going to be out about $40 per month on laundry detergent.  Needless to say, I am trying to stay away from this option because we need to save every penny that we can.

In a cost-saving effort, I have tried to make my own laundry detergent following this formula.  The jury is still out, as we have just started using this in our house.  (Incidentally, we used Ivory soap, as this is the only bar soap that doesn't make me crawl out of my skin.)   I will post an update to this article, once I have a clear idea of whether or not the homemade stuff is going to work for us.  (Update, it worked, BUT it didn't effectively clean our clothes.  I'm sticking with Tide!)

Do you have a solution that you live by to manage your child's eczema?  Have you used any other products that worked well for your own scratchy skin?  Please post a comment below, so we can all continue working toward solutions for our itchy little children.